Rhodesian SAS Break Contact, 1979
March 30, 2020 at 5:18 pm #145004dave37Participant
The following is from the book “Bravo Ten” by Andy Ryan. It is an account of an eight man SAS unit breaking contact during a long E&E following a sabotage mission inside Zambia. It is long, but I am posting it because it goes into an amazing amount of detail on the break contact drills familiar to us from MVT. It is all in there – the RTR, the firefight, bounding to the rear to get out of contact, regrouping, and then bugging out. I have broken it up into sections, and bolded a few passages that stuck out to me.
“CONTACT RIGHT!” an unknown voice boomed even before I heard the first gun shots. Immediately, instinctively, I was away at a sprint, looking for then diving into a little fold in the ground and knowing everyone else would be doing the same. The explosion of gunfire cut through the scene like thunder, accompanied by the all too familiar zip, crack, thump and whine of incoming rounds as they streaked past or slammed into the ground. I hit the dirt belly first, forgetting about the RPD drum dangling loosely from my webbing, and was fetched an almighty painful thump just below the ribs as the edge of the thing crunched into me, “Bastard!” I yelped.
The firefight. The author and his buddy aren’t able to fully take cover because of the need to lay down accurate return fire.
I could hear shouting but couldn’t tell what was being said. Looking to my left I saw Tim. I couldn’t see anyone else – including the enemy. Tim, however, was about eight or so metres to my right, down on one knee with his RPD at his shoulder and already engaging whoever was shooting at us with short bursts. He didn’t seem to care that his stance had given away his position and thus made him liable to cop some return fire. I couldn’t leave him with his arse out in the wind so, despite the fact that my senses were demanding that I stay out of sight and that fucking RPG round was slipping all over the place across my back, I lifted myself far enough off the floor to see over the grass. The bastards were out there somewhere but where? I followed Tim’s tracer into a tangle of bushes about 150 metres away then ducked back into cover to set my sights before I sort of half rolled and scrabbled into the same kneeling position, pushing down the selector a notch and bringing my rifle into the aim. I was now above the grass from the chest up and not in the least happy about it. I was going to get fucking shot if I wasn’t careful. I still couldn’t see the enemy. No movement, no muzzle flashes, but could hear the ominous zip of incoming rounds as they passed round and about. Letting fly on automatic towards the same location as Tim, it was with great restraint that I kept my bursts to three rounds each. Even at that comparatively short range I very much doubt I hit anyone. For a start I still didn’t know exactly where they were so was still taking the lead from Tim. Secondly, my pounding heart and erratic breathing were both conspiring to upset my aim to the point where I was having great difficulty keeping my weapon straight and level. Suddenly, just about fifteen metres to the left of where I’d been shooting a machine gun opened up. I saw the flicker of light at the muzzle and a bead of tracer rounds reaching out towards our right flank. That was all I needed, I put several bursts at the flashes until I got a dead man’s click. In the certain knowledge that should I find myself in a contact and would be responding with automatic fire, and in contrast to when using a FN, I had loaded just two green tracer rounds at numbers twenty and twenty five in the order they would be fired. Once the second one went I knew I had but one burst left (having put only 28 rounds each in the 30 round capacity mag). Down I went back into cover. It seemed to take an age for me to find the release switch with my thumb, press and withdraw, fumble for a new magazine and clip it in and – because the AK has no bolt open device – cock the thing, though in actual fact the age would have been just a few seconds. I rolled and slithered into a new position just in case anyone was waiting to twat me if I popped back up in the same place then got back into the kneel. I still couldn’t see Oz or any of the other lads as they were probably scattered up to 100 metres away amongst the grass, but had noted out going tracer from Bing’s RPD on the far flank slamming into the vicinity of the enemy.
I hoped Tim had a visual on some of them and knew that Oz would be trying to keep control over us with shouted commands as we went into the next phase. Our priority now was to suppress the enemy and clear the area. We couldn’t hang about trying to win the firefight, for all that would achieve would be to exhaust our precious ammunition and perhaps make us take casualties, whilst giving the Zambians mates time to turn up in force and surround us. I was into my third magazine when I heard Tim shout “GO!” I didn’t need any further prompting and was up running south westwards, directly away from the enemy. To my left and to my right I saw plumbs of dust erupt from the earth as bullets thumped into it, accompanied by the weird twanging sound of ricochets. Ten metres. Stop. Down. Fire.
The author doesn’t hear his buddy call a stoppage, and realizes he’s not being covered while moving.
Running ten metres doesn’t sound a lot but when you are being shot at it’s a fucking long way. Tim was changing out his ammo drum. I hadn’t heard him shout he was out of ammo? Fucking hell! I’m on my own here. Three round bursts, aimed fire, stay on target, keep the bastards heads down. In my peripheral vision I saw a few of the lads sprinting. They were away to my right. Incoming tracer was chasing them. I returned fire. “GO!” Up. Run. Zigzag a bit to try throw off the aim. Past the others, ten metres, stop, down, fire. I couldn’t see a fucking thing but kept shooting into the general area in order to put the wind up our opponents while the others broke ranks and ran. With the next bound I found myself in a thicket of bushes. I had aimed for it in the hope that I would be better concealed. There was a mature tree growing amongst the shrubbery whose trunk was just thick enough to hide behind. Standing up, I at last re-established visual contact with the enemy, reset my sights and loosed off a few more bursts before my weapon clicked to a halt. The magazine was out. I yelled to Tim, changed it and went back into the aim, pressing the muzzle against the trunk to steady myself. Three round bursts, nice and steady, don’t panic, make your shots count. THUMP, a round slammed into the tree, I saw flakes of bark as if in slow motion. ‘Fucking hell!’ Some bastard was out to get me! He must be a marksman. To even see me at that range, let alone get a shot off and an accurate shot at that took some doing. Within the whirlwind of thought and activity, it never entered my head that it could be a complete fluke, a wild round that just happened to come my way. No, as far as I was concerned I was being deliberately targeted. I couldn’t change position, the lads were into their move, and needed all the supporting fire they could get. I just crouched as low as possible while still keeping the enemy in sight and continued shooting. “GO!” I burst from the far side of the scrub, deliberately keeping it between me and the Zambians, ten metres and down. I had totally lost sight of the enemy now and did a crouching run so I could look past the edge of the shrubbery. It seemed like everyone was in the same boat and the fire slackened off dramatically as a result.
Regrouping, and then bugging out
Three more bounds and we were clear. There was still incoming fire but all of it, including longish bursts from the machine gun, was going way over our heads. Fucking hell that was a close call! I glanced at Tim and he looked how I felt. He asked me for my RPD drum. Not wanting to tempt fate I went over to him on all fours, unclipped the thing and handed it over. It was only then that I remembered the fucking great pain where it had caught me. I told Tim to make sure the drum hadn’t become deformed, if so, it would create the possibility of a stoppage. We were both sweating heavily and panting like fuck. I wiped my eyes with my shirt sleeve then spotted Oz with his head and shoulders out of cover. He wanted to know if everyone was okay – we were. Now we had to get the fuck out of here before the Zambians could react. The lads were spread out all over the place so Oz told us to close up. We quickly assumed our five metre spacing to the accompaniment of the crackle of searching fire behind us. I was still to be on point with Tim to my rear. The plan was simple, we were going to move hard and fast due east until Oz told us to stop. Our ERV was to remain the same as originally planned for now so we didn’t have to waste time setting another.
It was fun for me to read about all the details of the drills I have done at MVT being practiced verbatim by the RSAS before I was even born. I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I did. I recommend the book, which is free to read if you have Kindle Unlimited.
HEAT 1 2017
Intro to CQB 2017
Texas HEAT 2 2018
Operation TeaSinker 2019
Combat Leader Course 2019
March 30, 2020 at 6:36 pm #145007
March 30, 2020 at 7:08 pm #145010
That was awesome, Dave!
I just ordered the book.
MVT Texas 2015-2020
Team Cowbell / Team Coyote / Team Rekkr
March 30, 2020 at 7:10 pm #145011
Great stuff in this book as well, if you haven’t already read it.
The Bush War In Rhodesia: The Extraordinary Combat Memoir of a Rhodesian Reconnaissance Specialist
MVT Texas 2015-2020
Team Cowbell / Team Coyote / Team Rekkr
March 30, 2020 at 8:14 pm #145013
Echo Lloyd’s link.
Read this one prepared to be pissed off, at all the European countries and the US. Especially President Jimmy Carter, Ambassador Andrew Young, and even Margaret Thatcher (read far enough, you’ll find out why).
March 30, 2020 at 8:35 pm #145015
March 31, 2020 at 5:30 am #145032LittleBigBillParticipant
Thank you for the links guys.
I hope to never be in such a fight, but I will endeavor to learn how to survive one without getting my teammates killed.
Max’s instruction is key to that survival!
March 31, 2020 at 8:41 am #145036DiznNCParticipant
It’s very interesting to see where Max’s T,T,P’s were developed, in hot spots like these around the globe. Very nice validation of the things he has taught. The SAS tribes were very tight, with frequent exchange programs until politics intervened, so you see a lot of cross-pollinization within the Commonwealth countries.
Another good read, if you can find it: “The Elite” by Barbara Cole.
March 31, 2020 at 10:02 am #145040
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